In an unexpected but successful union of various on-campus clubs, Club Downunder has teamed up with Presidential Scholars and the Black Student Union to host a screening of the 2021 action-western film “The Harder They Fall” online. honor of Black History Month.
The film, directed by Jeymes Samuel, features an all-star cast of black actors, from Jonathan Majors to Idris Elba to Regina King, and has become a staple of black cinema in the short time since its release. These on-campus RSOs collectively understood the cultural significance of the film and decided to join forces to host a one-night-only screening of “The Harder They Fall” at the Askew Student Life Center. To further enhance the experience, the event was hosted by the local black-owned SWAT food truck, serving a range of delicious food for moviegoers.
Following the film, select Presidential Scholars and Black Student Union representatives moderated a discussion on the film’s background and impact with special guest Dr. Ravi Howard of FSU’s Department of English.
The event lasted four hours, but the length of the event was well worth the unforgettable experience RSO provided its customers. With the crowd reaching into the hundreds and their immediate reactions overwhelmingly positive, all signs point to a thoroughly successful effort by all parties involved, much to the delight of the dedicated Boards of Directors responsible for his organization.
The initial idea came from the Presidential Fellows, specifically their Diversity and Inclusion Council, who were approached to host an event in honor of Black History Month by the Fellows Executive Council . This branch of the program aims to increase awareness of minority representation not only among Presidential Scholars, but within the FSU community as a whole. The board was compelled by the idea of collaborating with other organizations on campus and given the subject matter, a twinning with the Black Student Union seemed like the perfect opportunity to accomplish their task.
After coming up with the idea of hosting a movie night at the Askew Student Life Center featuring the black western “The Harder They Fall,” the D&I Presidential Scholars Board approached the Black Student Union who hosted the event with open arms and a willingness to collaborate. Coincidentally, the organization was primarily working with Club Downunder to organize a similar type of function, with the CDU suggesting that a local black-owned business should organize the event. In an unexpected but happy turn of events, the three interested parties came together to create a culturally rich experience for all participants.
Mallory Malman, Presidential Fellow and Head of the D&I Council, commented on the success of the event.
“I was really proud of it because I’ve been working on it since December,” Malman said. “I was involved in sending emails and coordinating everything. Hearing the crowd reaction during parts of the movie was just awesome.
While the dinner and a cinematic portion of the event were hugely successful, the post-movie discussion really encapsulated the importance of this collaboration. Hosted by members of the D&I Board and the Black Student Union, a panel on the film’s cultural significance as a “black cowboy” film was hosted with Dr. Ravi Howard of FSU’s English Department.
Dr. Howard has become a notable figure in the FSU community, as his studies of African American narratives and his experiences publishing books and working in sports made him an ideal subject to speak on the subject of “The Harder They Fall”.
The panel conversation revolved around the film’s intentional production design, character development, and commitment to its craft as a representation of African Americans in the predominantly white environment of the Wild West. The film’s controversy over colorism in the film’s cast was also addressed, to which Dr. Howard called for improved representation among casting directors and film sets in general.
The event concluded with an impressive spike in attendance and a general sense of accomplishment lingering in the air. As a joint venture between three progressive programs on campus, the screening and discussion of “The Harder They Fall” will be remembered as an undoubted success, which will hopefully lead to similar events in the near future.